There are conflicting reports over Manchester United’s supposed interest in Radamel Falcao.
With speculation over the future of Wayne Rooney refusing to fade, reports over the past few days have suggested United are set to make an offer for Falcao during the summer transfer window. Indeed, respected Spanish journalist Guillem Balague has gone as far as to say that the Reds have paid Atletico Madrid an ‘advance payment’ for the striker, just as they did when taking goalkeeper David De Gea from the same club in the summer of 2011.
However, ahead of their Premier League clash at Stoke City on Sunday which could see his side restore a 15-point lead in the race for the title, Ferguson is quoted on the official club website as saying: “Do you honestly believe that? It does amaze me that you come up with that one.”
Balague has again taken to twitter on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to clarify his earlier claims. He maintains that United have made a payment, yet this does not guarantee they will sign Falcao. The 27-year-old, he goes on to explain, belongs in a big percentage to a third party, an investment fund, who are asking for guarantees from those that are interested in him. And the club who eventually pays the buyout clause will sign the player; those who don’t will get refunds.
Ferguson’s comments do not mean Balague has his information wrong. After all, why would the United manager publicly declare his interest in Falcao? Doing so could unsettle his current attacking options at a time when they are closing on a record-extending title number 20, whilst it would also give his rivals the time to launch a counter-bid for the Colombian who, with 28 goals in 34 matches this term, has further enhanced his reputation as one of the most prolific goalscorers in the game.
Chelsea are known admirers of Falcao, having witnessed at first hand just how lethal he can be when he smashed in a hat-trick against them in the UEFA Super Cup last August. They could use former Vicente Calderon favourite Fernando Torres as a bargaining tool to sign him, or allow goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to stay in the Spanish capital after two impressive seasons on loan. Paris St Germain, backed by their billionaire Qatari owners, are also keen, as are Real Madrid. And would anybody be surprised if Manchester City also got involved?
If United did decide to meet the buyout clause of €60million, which would eclipse the £30.75million record fee they paid Tottenham Hotspur for Dimitar Berbatov in 2008, it would likely mean the departure of Rooney. The England international was controversially left out of their biggest game of the season when Ferguson excluded him from the starting XI for the UEFA Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid at Old Trafford last month, and with two years left on his contract, if the Reds decided to sell, this summer would probably be the most opportune time.
But how much would United demand for Rooney who, on his day, remains one of the best forwards in Europe? And more to the point, who could afford his fee and salary? Barcelona and Real Madrid aren’t thought to be interested, and although PSG are cash-rich, the French league doesn’t have the glamour of its European equivalents. Manchester City’s previous interest is believed to have waned, and Chelsea have rarely been linked with the 27-year-old despite their billions.
If signing Falcao is dependent on offloading Rooney, then Ferguson will know there will be plenty of complex negotiations in the coming weeks; and such uncertainty is yet another reason why it would be foolish to expect him to publicly announce his interest in the Colombian.